Leading jumps jockey Steve Pateman has warned punters not to rule out Black and Bent in the Grand National Hurdle (3900m) at Sandown Park on Sunday.
Black and Bent won the Grand National Hurdle in 2011 and earlier this year scored an Australian-record tenth consecutive jumps racing victory with his win in the Jack Dow Memorial Hurdle (3300m) but punters have deserted the champion after back-to-back losses in the Brendan Drechsler Hurdle (3200m) and Kevin Lafferty Hurdle (3600m).
Despite being allocated 72kg by the handicapper, Pateman is full of confidence that Black and Bent can return to the winning circle on Sunday.
“Yes, he’s got beaten his past two, but he’s run good races,” Pateman told TVN.
“It’s not as if he’s getting flogged, he’s been getting beaten three lengths with plenty of things against him.
“He’s still a champion, he’s going well at home and he races best at Sandown.
“Up in trip and back to Sandown, I’m not writing him off.”
It is no surprise Pateman is defensive of the Black Hawk gelding as he has ridden him in eight of his thirteen wins over jumps including the 2010 Australian Hurdle (3400) and 2011 Grand National.
Pateman is aiming to win his third straight Grand National Hurdle after partnering Brungle Cry, who will be ridden by Tom Ryan in the 2013 edition of the race, to victory last year.
Black and Bent will face stiff competition on Sunday with last start winner Wells and former Adelaide Cup placegetter Macedonian also in the field.
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